After many years of knowing and collaborating with Mason Studio, we have always been inspired both by their talent and their uniquely human approach towards design.

Guided by their innate need to make better, Mason Studio approaches design thoughtfully and with deep care. Founding Partners Ashley Rumsey and Stanley Sun seek to understand — the opportunities they have as well as the possibilities they can create — in order to bring real value to a project, an experience, a personal moment, or to society at large — in a rich and meaningful way. Mason Studio’s idealistic approach towards humanity believes in the potency of design in making change actionable.


How did you both come to work together? What is your dynamic like and has it shifted over the years? What have you come to learn about each other?
We met as students at design school and have worked together in many capacities ever since. We are very different but think alike with similar goals and ambitions. We always have the same outcome in mind but have complementary skills, perspectives, and methods to get there. What makes our partnership enduring is our aligned vision and implicit trust and respect for one another.
Do you have a process to the way you work or is it completely open?
We would explain our process as both rigid and fluid. Having an underlying roadmap of how to go about our work allows us to be more exploratory and experimental. A framework gives some parameters to our process to ensure our work is based on intentionality and theory. Our method is rooted in experimentation, allowing us to think broadly and outside of our present experience.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Our ideas are always future-forward, looking not only at present challenges and improving on past ideas but considering the future's needs. We know we don't have a crystal ball, but to make spaces meaningful for the long-term, we investigate current social, economic and environmental factors that will impact how we want to be living our lives for years to come. We are motivated to make better through the work we do.
What are some recurring threads in your work?
We try not to impose aesthetic ideas into our designs without having a deep understanding of what our spaces are trying to achieve. For each of our projects, our work begins with understanding the needs of our clients, their goals, vision and brand values. We then adopt them as our own when developing a design. With this approach, every space is beautifully unique and genuinely expresses the people or brand it serves.
You are at the 10 year anniversary of the studio, how has Mason shifted and where are you going in the future?
The future of Mason Studio will be a return to our roots and the principles upon which we founded this company. We created Mason Studio from a desire to use experimentation as a process to learn about and understand how people interact with environments to enrich experiences. In our early years, we created many public installations, panel discussions, artistic collaborations, and research studies to explore these ideas. As we gained knowledge, our efforts broadened to develop our business while focusing on building a solid and diverse design team. With experience and a solid team alongside us, we are focused on redefining our goals and making the most significant impact possible through our work.
Tell us a bit more about The M–Lab, what is its intent and how does it manifest itself in the future?
M–Lab is a working title for the experimentation space we designed into our new studio to engage with a larger community. In 2021, we moved to 91 Pelham and completed an extensive renovation. We took the opportunity to design a space that represents our values of collaboration, experimentation, and education. This lab and the studio as a whole encourage a porous and fluid exchange of ideas within and outside the design community. In the future, we see our design team using this space to explore ideas and as a vehicle to showcase Mason's partnerships with community organizations.
Art is the poetry, soul, culture, and silent essence of a space.
Can you speak to the convergence of art, science, humanity and architecture in your work?
Every one of our projects is a delicate blend of each of these elements. Art is the poetry, soul, culture, and silent essence of a space. Science is the fundamental structure, foundation, and rigour required to execute with intention. Humanity is our work's underlying purpose: to approach everything we do with care and kindness. And architecture is the broader context inside which our environments exist.
You have been working on a few modular / mobile projects lately, can you describe how your approach shifts for these spaces versus something that is more static?
These types of projects are particularly thoughtful because they shift perceptions of time and place, creating unique challenges and opportunities. No longer does an interior environment remain static to a specific location with set parameters on the relationship with the exterior or spatial context. Modularity is an element that reveals a tension between intentionality and flexibility. Modular designs need to be very intentional and detailed in their execution yet are intended to be open-ended and flexible in their use.
How important is having a space to play and experiment with what you do?
While a physical space for experimentation is essential to reinforce our values, a prevalent culture of open-mindedness and exploration is even more paramount to our process. We encourage our team to approach design thinking with an exploratory lens, testing alternative ideas and challenging norms. Especially given the current circumstances of the pandemic where physically working together has been limited, we have been mindful of fostering experimentation and playfulness through all types of communication and process.
What is the most important choice you make when designing a home?
The floor plan is one of the most important aspects of any project since it is the foundation upon which the sightlines, spatial flow, and functional needs are met. The second and equally important element is the lighting. We ensure the light levels and quality respond to the ambiance desired for every time of day and activity.
As you work internationally, how does culture inform the spaces you design?
Each of us views the world through a perspective based on our unique life experiences. As designers, we work hard to reject our own biases and learn about the traditions and culture of those for whom we are designing. Regardless of where our projects are located, it is of the utmost importance to not make assumptions on how people live, work, shop or find enjoyment. Every project at every scale and location responds to the surrounding context and the people who inhabit the space. It is part of our job to ask questions, listen, and observe as best we can to respond appropriately within a cultural context that may not be our own.
Can you speak a bit about what you envision as future models of home?
The home will continue to be an intensely personal space that serves every facet of our being. We no longer compartmentalize our lives and seek fulfillment for work, entertainment, and wellness solely in alternate physical locations. The workplace, retail stores, restaurants and fitness facilities, for instance, are examples of goods and services that will continue to become holistically integrated into our personal spaces. In the future, homes will continue to respond to this hybrid of function and become beautifully multifaceted and multifunctional environments.
What did the pandemic reveal to you?
That anything and everything is possible. So much changed so quickly at every scale, yet we were still able to continue to do our work together every day, serve our clients and live our values. It taught us that we can take risks, make big decisions, and know that we have the talent, ingenuity, and resilience to achieve. It also taught us that patience, kindness and empathy go a long way. Everyone faces different challenges with the pandemic, and you never know how someone else might be dealing with the circumstances they encounter. We have learned the virtues of trust, patience and togetherness.
If you were to sit at a table with the most inspiring encounters — who would you be sitting with?
Recently, I have been thinking about women like Viola Desmond, Roberta Bondar and Pitseolak Ashoona. Women who find conviction, purpose and meaning in their lives and use their knowledge and perspective to impact the world around them. As a new mother, I spend more time than ever before thinking about the future and how one comes to be who one is. I imagine a conversation with these women would be transformational.
Who gives you hope?
My daughter. Her innocence, naivety, and the way she reacts without judgement proves that every person develops their perspective and way of thinking through experience. She will learn things and impact the world in a way that I am not capable of. She has taught me how to experience pure joy without consequence.
Where is your favourite place and what are your top 5 things to do there?
My favourite place is my city - Toronto. I have had the opportunity and privilege to live and travel around the world, and every time I come back, I realize how much it is my favourite place. Picking five top things to do here is extremely difficult because the variety is endless. Instead, I will pick one - wandering this city with no destination. Travel the streets and side roads and let the city guide your path. So much of this city I have learned about only through exploration and has expanded my appreciation for everything this place has to offer.
What is your idea of expansiveness?
Expansiveness is a magnificence that is beyond our understanding and beyond our ability to understand. It is the idea that we are on a path that does not have a determined end and is an indeterminate and infinite journey.


Uncovering Paris

Uncovering Paris



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